Background of the ASME B31.1 Power Piping Code

O'Donnell Consulting Engineers

Background of the ASME B31.1 Code

Keywords: ASME B31.1, ASME B31, Pressure Piping; B31 Code; Power Piping; Process Piping; ASME B31.3; ASME B31.4, ASME B31.8, ASME B31.1 Code, B31.1, B31.3, Compliance


In the field of power generation and industrial piping systems, it’s quite important to ensure safety, reliability, and efficiency. Thus, various codes and standards have been developed to regulate the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of power plants and piping networks. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Power and Piping Codes are primarily used.

ASME B31 Code for Pressure Piping is a comprehensive set of standards that governs the design, fabrication, installation, inspection, and maintenance of various piping systems. The B31 code covers different types of piping, such as power piping (B31.1), process piping (B31.3), and pipeline transportation systems (B31.4 and B31.8). These codes ensure that piping systems are engineered to withstand the demands of fluid transportation, maintaining the safety and integrity of the overall infrastructure.

ASME B31.1 is specifically focused on power piping, providing requirements for the design, installation, and maintenance of piping systems within power plants. This code addresses critical aspects such as material selection, pressure ratings, pipe sizing, fabrication, and welding procedures. Compliance with B31.1 ensures the safe and efficient operation of power piping systems, minimizing the risk of leaks, failures, and accidents.

The ASME B31.3 code is widely used in industries involving chemical processes. It encompasses guidelines for the design, construction, and inspection of process piping systems. By addressing factors such as fluid properties, pressure and temperature limitations, corrosion considerations, and stress analysis, B31.3 ensures the integrity and reliability of process piping systems, contributing to the overall safety of the industrial facilities. Typical fluids include finished chemicals, petroleum products; steam, air, water, and refrigerants.

The ASME codes take into account lessons learned from past failures and incidents, incorporating best practices and innovative engineering solutions. By integrating research, industry expertise, and continuous improvements, these codes stay up-to-date with emerging technologies and advancements.

History of ASME B31.1 Power Piping Code

In 1926, the American Standards Institute initiated Project B31 to develop a piping code. The first publication was in 1935. From 1942 to 1955 the Code was published as the American Standard Code for Pressure Piping, ASA B31.1. It consisted of separate sections for different industries. Starting in 1955, these sections were split off – and now currently exist as:

  • B31.1 Power Piping
  • B31.2 Fuel Gas Piping (withdrawn in 1988)
  • B31.3 Process Piping
  • B31.4 Pipeline Transportation Systems for Liquid Hydrocarbon and Other Liquids
  • B31.5 Refrigeration Piping
  • B31.6 Chemical Plant Piping (never published – was merged into B31.3)
  • B31.7 Nuclear Piping (moved to ASME B&PV Code Section III)
  • B31.8 Gas Transmission and Distribution Piping Systems
  • B31.9 Building Services piping
  • B31.10 Cryogenic Piping (never published – merged into B31.3)
  • B31.11 Slurry Piping

The initials that have occurred in front of B31.1 have been ASA, ANSI and ASME. In 1978, the Standards Committee was reorganized as a committee operating under ASME procedures with ANSI accreditation – therefore the initials ASME now appear in front of B31.1.

Scope of ASME B31.1 Code

The ASME B31.1 Code was written for power piping systems, covering fuel gas and oil systems in the plant (downstream of the meters), central and district heating systems, in addition to the water and steam systems in power plants.

ASME B31.1 is a consensus document, written by a committee that is intended to contain balanced representation from a variety of interests. Membership includes:

  1. Manufacturers
  2. Owners/Operators
  3. Designers/ Constructors
  4. Regulatory Agents
  5. Insurers/Inspectors
  6. General Interest Parties

Intent of The ASME B31.1 Code

The ASME B31.1 Code provides rules for piping typically found in electric power generating stations, industrial and institutional plants, geothermal heating systems, and central and district heating and cooling systems.





O’Donnell Consulting Performs Engineering Design, Analysis & Troubleshooting Services – as well as Analysis to ASME B31.1 Power Piping Code – and ASME 31.3 Process Piping Code to Ensure Compliance.


See Also:
>> Tom O’Donnell, PE
>> Finite Element Analysis of Skid Mounted Heat Transfer System
>> Finite Element Analysis 
>> Vibration & Fatigue Analysis

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